There aren’t many bands who can lose their front man and still go onto bigger and better things. As a general rule, once the main guy has departed, things go sharply downhill. Pink Floyd and Genesis spring to mind as the exceptions to the rule. Otherwise, bands just end up with the hangers on desperately hanging on. They turn into virtual tribute bands almost by default. Unless you’re talking about Boney M, in which case the tribute band contains (some of) the original band members whilst the ‘real’ band contains none of them. Odd. But I digress. I’m talking music today, so let’s get back on track.
Last Saturday, Mrs P and I went to Prom in the Park, a music festival of sorts put on by BBC Radio 2. This is not your tents, grunge and ganja in a field sort of festival. This is a festival for civilised people who prefer the scenery of Hyde Park and flushing toilets to the sea of mud and urine of a Somerset farm. We took our folding chairs and a posh picnic, freshly sliced and diced from the delicatessen of Whole Foods Market. We had a fine time.
We watched the Mavericks open the show. They only ever had the one hit, so they kindly played that and then buggered off. Oh, I’m being unfair. They played a couple more songs. Which were pleasant, but not really radio material. Then a lady came and blew her trumpet. Four guys then sang a collection of Frank Sinatra hits, and were pretty good too. Until they sang one of their own songs. After than a lady came and sang a bit of opera. What I really remember about her, is that her photo in the program suggested she had the figure of Kate Moss. On stage, she was more Nigella Lawson. After Christmas, rather than just before summer.
And finally at some time around 8pm, the main act took to the stage. The Jacksons. Now, I started this off by suggesting that most bands who lose their front man, the big cheese, the main man, well…they tend to lose their mojo. Has any band ever had a bigger lead singer than the Jacksons? I’ve given this some thought, and I’m going to state, with some confidence, that the answer to this question is ‘no’.
Let’s be honest, the combined talents of Jermaine, Marlon, Tito and Jackie are not going to cover up the fact that little Michael is missing. So where does that leave his siblings? They’re not what they used to be. But they are somehow more than a tribute band. I found it tough to define them.
A couple of days later, I had the answer. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain saw the biggest display of WWII planes since the end of the war. Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters galore. It was a mighty sight, if you were lucky to be under the flight path. These planes might not have their original pilots, and they might well be on their last legs. But everyone still wants to see them. It’s the history and heritage that they stand for, and the story they tell.
I know. It’s a strange analogy. The Jacksons and old fighter planes. But hey, there is some sound logic behind this. After all, the band have already released two albums named after famous old British ships and motor bicycles*. Perhaps, if they are up to creating a new album, or have some old, as yet unrecorded material lying around, then just perhaps they might yet call it Spitfire.
*I am aware that Victory and Triumph were probably not named after famous old British ships and motor bicycles. But hey ho.